For me, the big difference between an action-figure line, and a full blown toy line is if there are implements, play sets, and vehicles to interact with the figures, and further build out the world they create. Well, right from the start, Masters of the Universe Origins to planting its flag squarely in the full TOY LINE camp with the release of the classic Sky Sled and trusty Battle Cat.
Last week we had the chance to cover He-Man and Skeletor as the lead-ins for the new Origins line, but before we even have a chance to track down more figures, the vehicles have arrived. I take this a sure sign that Mattel is putting their full support and backing around making Origins a full success with collectors and kids alike, so being able to take advantage of that benefit with fun new toys is most definitely awesome. As mentioned, this line is starting out at Wal-Mart now, but as revealed at Power-Con over the weekend, 2021 will see the expansion to all mainline and online retailers. So, if these continue to sell as strongly as they seem to be right now, I think this new line will be here for the long haul.
Overall, I think that He-Man and Skeletor are good figures, with Skeletor getting the edge for me because he is evil (bad is COOL), but man, Battle Cat is probably my favorite release of the line thus far. This is such a fun toy, and it is almost the perfect hybrid between the vintage stylings and the Classics articulation and functionality. When I first saw the Origins line, I felt that it feel squarely between the original MOTU line and MOTUC in terms of what it representing overall, and Battle Cat certainly seems to prove that hypothesis in a great way.
BC is chonker, and in the best way. Right out of the box he has that chunky and solid feel, but he also moves and poses in meaningful way. Let’s face it, the vintage Battle Cat was already a repaint of the an existing Big Jim tiger mold, so while I loved that old to beyond words, the fact that he could not move was always a challenge for me. This Origins figure has a surprising amount of movement and articulation and while it does not clock in as high as the Classics version, it still has all of the essential points to make him battle ready.
The sculpting work certainly harkens back to the vintage BC, and that can be seen best in the head. The expression and form most certainly fit that old figure, but there is enhanced detail that lives under the battle armor, so it is always appreciated when effort goes into places often obscured or unlooked. Speaking of the armor – the headdress and battle saddle are both removable (as you would expect) and can be taken off and put back on with ease, but still stay in place well when you do not want them to move. The good part about the designs of these pieces is that the do not interfere with the articulation, so no worries about that. The “eyes” of the helmet are painted in a way that more closely resembles the Filmation cartoon, though, so that is surprising to me, and for a 5.5-inch line, Origins BC is actually almost as tall as the MOTUC version, so the cat they normally call Cringer is ready to take on all comers.
Oh, and also announced at Power-Con is the fact that Battle Cat’s mortal enemy Panthor will be coming next year (in both plain and flocked varieties), as is Battle Armor He-Man. Like many, I always like that version of He-Man the best for use with BC, so our wait for my preferred configuration will not be long.
Moving onto the Sky Sled, I will admit that this was always one of my favorite vehicles as a kid. I got it as a hand-me-down from my cousins, so while it was pretty played with when it came new to me, the Sled and Battle Ram instantly became essentials in all of my MOTU adventures. As you can see, this release is only for the Sled it self, and back half of the Battle Ram is not included. Sure, we trade out getting a Prince Adam figure instead (more on that in a minute), but I do kind of miss the other piece. I am hoping it will come along later because I will never say no to more Sleds, but with out that other piece, the Battle Ram is not fully complete.
Like Battle Cat, this is a sturdy and solid toy that will be able to stand up to even the most enthusiastic play, and that is something I do not want to gloss over or discount in a line like this. So many of the modern action figure lines I collect feel fragile or “made of the shelf” these days, and I as get that they are designed for the collectors, there is some acceptability there. However, having a toy that feels like it can take the barbarian fantasy lumps in play is a great thing, so you will not have to worry about any of the engineering or quality when it comes to this piece.
The details are very enhanced here, and I am happy to say that 90% of them are sculpted but this does rely on stickers where appropriate to match the original version. This definitely skews more towards Classics in terms of those details, and I mean that in a very positive way because this my favorite piece in the line so far. Plus, the extras that come with this baby are wonderful because you can have a clear path to “heroic” and “evil” Sleds with just a few swappable parts. The “head” can more from the griffin to the snake with ease and the color panels that were historically stickers (carried over here) can be swapped depending on whether the Sled docks at Grayskull or Snake Mountain. I REALLY love this feature and it pretty much guarantees that any collector with their salt is going to require multiple purchases.
A flight stand and blaster blast effect piece are both included as well, and they go a long way in adding play value to this release. Sure, right out of the box I flew my Sky Sled around (and maybe even made some sound effects), but on the shelf, the stand will be MUCH appreciated. The blast effect is fun, too, and cast in a cool translucent red plastic that complements the coloring of the Sled well. I hope we get to see more parts like this in subsequent vehicle releases. I am already champing at the bit for that newly-unveiled Land Shark!
Finally, you also get a Prince Adam figure with the Sled, and I am of two minds on this. First and foremost, I am really glad they are giving us the original toy inspired Prince Adam (the comic version was released last year as an SDCC exclusive) as he is essential for the line, and all of the details from the vest to the pink Power Sword (full) are here. My figure has two left upper arms, so that is bummer, and you cannot just flip the pieces around and cheat it like Classics. So, he is solid for sure, but that part error is a bummer.
However, as a matter of personal preference, I think I would have rather have seen an army builder figure done here, like maybe an Eternian Palace Guard or something. If I am going to buy multiples of these, I would love to add more ranks to the army than have a pile of Prince Adams. However, that is just a preference thing, not a complaint, and I completely understand why they would include an essential variation of the main character, rather than a nameless infantryman. Anyway, hopefully Man-at-Arms will get his army at some point.
These are just fun toys, and as I said, they are my favorites of the line so far. The Sky Sled especially has a lot of love poured into it, so you will NOT want to skip it under any circumstance. Battle Cat is essential buying as well, and these two hopefully represent a full onslaught on more vehicles and beasts in the future for Origins, and the good news is that the Power-Con reveals look to support that.
*Thanks to Mattel for providing these product samples for feature.